Rafael Dos Anjos Says Now Is The Time For Bout With Conor McGregor
The bout between Rafael dos Anjos and Conor McGregor was originally set to take place in May of 2016 at UFC 196. The ‘Notorious’ one — who at the time was the reigning UFC featherweight champion — was going up in weight to challenge for the lightweight belt. Less than two weeks before the event however, the Brazilian was forced to pull out from the fight due to a broken foot injury suffered in training.
Nate Diaz famously stepped in as a late replacement for RDA and submitted Conor late in the second round. The two would later rematch in one of the most memorable nights of MMA in recent history at UFC 202, which would propel both fighters to unprecedented levels of stardom. Nonetheless, one of the biggest unknowns in mixed martial arts remains in the minds of many fans of the sport: what if McGregor had fought dos Anjos?
RDA, who currently competes at welterweight, believes that now is the time to prove his worth against the Irishman. Dos Anjos spoke to MMA Junkie about why he still eyes a fight with McGregor to this day.
“The whole history,” says RDA. “I was the lightweight champion, he was coming up to challenge me and also, I got a lot of fights. That was the only one that I didn’t make it. That’s what I would like to have on my record, a fight with Conor. That’s why I tweeted out, ‘No more ifs.’ You see a lot of people say, ‘If that fight would’ve happened; If RDA won, If Conor won, what would’ve happened with Conor? If Conor had lost what would’ve happened?’ A lot of ifs. So it’s time to just put that thing on the table and let’s go. Let’s make this fight happen at any weight.”
Dos Anjos remains skeptical about McGregor’s most recent retirement. RDA is certain that the fight should happen not only because of their history but also because of the position both fighters hold in the UFC rankings.
“I don’t believe he’s retiring right now,” dos Anjos said. “That’s his third time retiring. I’m not buying that. I don’t think nobody is buying that. He’s too young and I believe he still has a lot in him. I don’t think he’s retiring right now.
“If you look at the whole situation, with me and Conor, I am ahead of him in the rankings at welterweight and this fight was supposed to happen four years ago and it didn’t happen. That would be a great fight. That’s the fight to make.”
The Rio de Janeiro native stated that he was scheduled to fight McGregor in his home country of Brazil. The fight was later scrapped due to the infamous dolly incident prior to UFC 223, in which the SBG fighter assaulted a bus carrying several UFC athletes, resulting in injuries that led to three cancelled bouts.
“UFC was going to make the announcement we were going to fight for the interim title in Brazil, the welterweight title, but that wasn’t my fault,” dos Anjos said. “That was his fault. He decided to break the bus and then it didn’t happen. Everything happens for a reason. I got hurt that day. … My whole career I got 42 fights and I never pull out due to injury. That was the first time ever and I would love to run that fight again. I would love to have a good camp and get that fight again.”
Dos Anjos assures us he was ready to beat McGregor, and that his preparations for the bout had been on point until the injury. The 35 year old believes he still is a threat to ‘The Notorious’. With this being his only withdrawal due to injury, he states that had he been able to walk, he would have entered the Octagon.
“I have no doubts I would beat him,” dos Anjos stated. “No doubts in my mind. I was feeling great in the sparring and training with big guys and was training with Lyoto Machida a lot, who has a very similar base to Conor. I was training really good with all those guys and I have no doubts in my mind. Unfortunately, 13 or 12 days before the fight, in one of my sparring I kicked the guy the wrong way and I told Lorenzo Fertitta, ‘Lorenzo, if I can’t kick I’m still going to fight. But I can’t walk. I can’t make it to the cage.’ I was forced to pull out, I was in a hard cast and a lot of people made jokes.
“Even Conor made jokes that I pulled out with a bruised foot, but it wasn’t the truth. If I had a bruised foot I would still fight. The kicks were part of my game for that fight, but I couldn’t make it to the cage, I couldn’t walk so that’s why I was forced to pull out.”
Although the UFC is looking to place McGregor against the winner between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje, dos Anjos believes a contest between him and Conor is the fight to make. Now that the Brazilian has expressed an interest in rescheduling the fight, he says that it is all up to the organisation’s matchmakers.
“The story speaks by itself,” said RDA. “The fight was there, we were scheduled to fight and it makes sense. We can make both divisions, and I think not only me, but a lot of people think that fight makes sense. I think now the ball is in the UFC’s court. It’s their move. I did my move already so let’s see what’s going to happen in the next couple weeks.”
Many fans across the globe have awaited a potential matchup between dos Anjos and McGregor for several years. Now, with both athletes without a scheduled opponent, now may be the perfect time to reschedule the fight between the two.
How do you think Rafael dos Anjos fares against Conor McGregor in a potential fight?